London Midland Firstline Workers streamline operations and stay connected with Office 365

Today’s post was written by Kirk Trewin, head of fleet production at London Midland.

Profile picture of Kirk Trewin, head of fleet production at London Midland.London Midland trains are an important part of our customers’ everyday lives. Passengers rely on our service for their essential journeys; ensuring our trains run on time means we keep our passengers’ days running smoothly. This commitment to great service led us to invest in Office 365 and Surface Hub. We’re using this technology to keep our digital transformation on track—helping to empower employees to reduce downtime, connect better with customers, and ensure safe and reliable operations.

We are experiencing an increase in footfall across our rail network and this expansion requires London Midland employees to work smarter. It’s critical that everything we do is precise and accurate, even seemingly simple procedures like opening doors to let passengers on and off a train are the result of complex processes that must work perfectly. So, behind the scenes at London Midland, informed decisions need to be made as quickly as possible. The reliability of our service hangs in the balance, and with it, our customers’ trust. If a train requires repair, we use Office 365 apps to bring a wealth of information straight to our technicians via mobile devices, so they can communicate with colleagues and refer to training materials when and where they need to.

Our Firstline Workers use Skype for Business to stay connected with colleagues in the head office, and the ability to share videos and photographs from the field makes the decision-making process incredibly efficient. For example, if a technician identifies corrosion on a unit, a video call makes it easy to consult coworkers and arrive at a solution. In the past, a technician had to gather evidence from a train, create a report, and present it to colleagues at the office. This process could take days, but with integrated collaboration tools from Office 365, we are down to minutes. Our trains spend less time in the depot awaiting a verdict, reducing service downtime.

We were searching for technology that made life easier for technicians, who represent a valuable segment of our Firstline Workforce. We’ve introduced Surface Hubs to streamline their access to available, consistent training materials. It’s been a huge success; technicians can refresh their knowledge or consult a training video instead of flipping through a 2,000-page manual or waiting to consult another busy colleague. Looking ahead, we’re producing digital, interactive schematics for Surface Hub, so our technicians can test the right solution for a technical problem on a unit. Virtual troubleshooting means technicians can make more informed diagnoses, further reducing unnecessary downtime.

Ours is, by definition, a mobile business—London Midland employees need to stay productive across our network. Office 365 tools like OneDrive have been game changers, and employees are embracing cloud-based document sharing and collaboration, working securely from anywhere, on any device. This has truly streamlined the way we do business. Our meetings are more productive, mainly due to OneNote, a digital notetaking app, which makes recording and sharing action items easy and intuitive.

For a distributed, fast-moving workforce, staying connected can be a challenge. We believe a connected, engaged workforce is more productive and empowered. Our company intranet, built using SharePoint Online, is where employees go for up-to-the-minute information about the company. This is particularly beneficial for Firstline Workers who interact with our customers at our 150 stations and on the trains. Our stations used to be equipped with a ticket issuing system and nothing more. Today, train platform and crew are connected to the wireless network, our intranet, and all the Office 365 productivity apps to work more efficiently. With a wealth of data at their fingertips, Firstline Workers are providing customers with accurate information and better service. And across the business, we use Yammer to share strategies and solve problems from the ground up.

We use Surface Hubs and Power BI to drive key performance indicators, so our fleet engineers can track a particular class of vehicle to see how it performs in the field, or drill into details to offer solutions for the production department. We have always stored a huge amount of data in charts and reports, but with information displayed in user-friendly dashboards on Surface Hub, we gain new insight into our operations and can improve performance indicators, such as miles per technical incident, by making faster, more informed decisions.

The more information we have, and the more open our lines of communication, the better equipped we are to streamline every aspect of our service. As we strive to make our fleet the most reliable in the country, we’re using modern, digital tools to work more effectively toward ensuring a safe, efficient service for our customers.

—Kirk Trewin

Read the case study to learn more about how London Midland is using Office 365 and Surface Hub to find innovative ways to serve passengers.